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Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering


The marine shale in the Lower Cambrian Niutitang Formation is the dominant shale-gas reservoir in northwestern Hunan, which accounts for more than 70% of unconventional energy in Hunan province. Accurately evaluating the shale-gas exploitation potential is a key to determining whether commercial exploitation standards can be met. In the literature, most existing studies have focused on evaluating the shale-gas exploitation potential based on either accumulation conditions or the shale fracability, which will lead to a gap between the real production and proven gas reserves due to the characteristics of the shale’s low permeability and low porosity. Therefore, further studies are needed to evaluate the effective shale-gas exploitation potential. To address this need, the outcrop shale samples in the Niutitang Formation were collected from the target regions, and the geological characteristics, mechanics behavior, and microstructure performance were discussed via both field data and laboratory tests. The results revealed that the shale-gas exploitation potential in the Niutitang Formation was indicated to be comparable to that of five validated shale-gas exploitation regions in the United States. To further illustrate the effective shale-gas exploitation potential, this study suggested using a comprehensive evaluation framework for this purpose, in which both accumulation condition and the shale fracability are simultaneously considered. Therefore, the shale gas reservoir in the Niutitang Formation has highly effective shale-gas exploitation potential by considering both the accumulation conditions and the shale fracability.

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© 2018 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license ( Publisher’s version of record:

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


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